Natural Health

How to Make Homemade Hand Sanitizer w/ Alcohol & Aloe Vera

When it comes to staying healthy and avoiding germs, nothing beats good old-fashioned proper handwashing. Soap, water, and scrubbing is one of the best ways to clean your hands of all sorts of bacteria, viruses, or grime. But what if you can’t get to a sink right away? That is when portable hand sanitizer comes to the rescue! Read along to learn how to make your own effective homemade hand sanitizer, using only two ingredients: rubbing alcohol and aloe vera gel.

This article will teach you how to make homemade hand sanitizer a couple of different ways, depending on whether you have a bottle of 91 to 99% strength alcohol, or the 70% alcohol version. Both recipes are strong enough to kill the current coronavirus when used correctly. Also, you can use either fresh aloe vera plant leaves or bottled aloe vera gel for this hand sanitizer recipe – whatever you have access to! 


Why make homemade hand sanitizer?


There are a number of reasons that you may want to make your own hand sanitizer at home. One timely reason is the current COVID-19 global pandemic that is happening as I write this article. Every store and internet outlet is sold out of hand sanitizer! Aaron works at a grocery store and is risking daily exposure right now. Under normal circumstances we personally don’t use hand sanitizer very often, but I wanted to make some for him to bring to work during this crazy time.   

Beyond the current state of affairs, creating homemade hand sanitizer has several perks! By making your own, you have the ultimate control over the ingredients that go into it. Also, if you like to regularly use hand sanitizer, making homemade hand sanitizer “in bulk” and filling reusable bottles is a great way to reduce plastic waste that the tiny disposable bottles create. 


Is homemade hand sanitizer effective at killing viruses & bacteria?


This recipe creates a hand sanitizer that is 60-70% alcohol. According to the Center for Disease Control, hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol is effective at killing the novel COVID-19 coronavirus, along with many other types of viruses, bacteria, and germs. That is, when it is used correctly! See the instructions on how to properly use hand sanitizer in the sections to follow.

However, please note that alcohol-based hand sanitizer doesn’t kill every type of pathogen that may make you sick in other circumstances. For example, it does not kill or remove germs like Cryptosporidium, norovirus, and Clostridium difficile. If you aren’t familiar with it, norovirus is the highly-contagious bad guy that causes the “24 hour flu”. Chlorine bleach is the only thing that kills norovirus. 


Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links to products for your convenience, such as to items on Amazon. Homestead and Chill gains a small commission from purchases made through those links, at no additional cost to you.

A birds eye view image of three leaves of aloe vera, three bottles of essential oils, a plastic bottle of 99% isopropyl alcohol, a travel size squeeze bottle used for liquid soap, and a small spray bottle. These are the ingredients for homemade hand sanitizer.


HOMEMADE HAND SANITIZER RECIPE


Supplies & Ingredients Needed


  • Rubbing alcohol, aka isopropyl alcohol. 91 to 99% strength is preferred. You can also use 70% alcohol if that is all you have, though you won’t be able to use as much aloe vera in the recipe – in order to keep the alcohol content up to 60% as desired.

  • Aloe vera gel. Adding aloe vera gel to homemade hand sanitizer provides moisture and nourishment to help balance the harsh drying effects of alcohol. It also adds some thickness to your hand sanitizer for easier and more effective application, adding to the important contact time of alcohol on your skin. We use fresh aloe vera from the garden, though you can use bottled aloe vera gel from the store too. Be sure to get aloe GEL though, and not a lotion! Aloe vera plants grow easily outdoors in frost-free climates. If you don’t grow your own, you might be able to find some leaves around your neighborhood or at the local grocery store. See the instructions and video below to see how to extract the inner gel from a fresh aloe vera leaf.

  • Essential oils (optional). Many essential oils have been shown to exhibit natural anti-microbial and anti-viral properties, thanks to their terpenes and the plants that they’re derived from. Therefore, rosemary, eucalyptus, cinnamon, lavender, tea tree, citrus, thyme, and oregano (among others) are all useful and welcome additions to homemade hand sanitizer. Along with fighting germs, they provide a nice aroma. We love and use this mix-pack of certified-organic essential oils.

  • A small spray bottle, squeeze bottle, or other storage container.




Extracting Fresh Aloe Vera Gel 


If you are using fresh aloe vera in this recipe, you’ll want to use only the inner gel portion of the leaf – leaving the fibrous outer skin behind. Watch the quick video demonstration below to see my trick on how to easily do this! (Don’t mind the blender with whole-leaf chunks in the video… we were making an aloe soil drench to feed our plants with. See this article to learn more about growing and using aloe vera in the garden.



A stainless steel half cup measuring cup that is full to the brim with freshly extracted aloe vera gel. In the background there is a wood cutting board which contains the left over aloe vera skin along with a chefs knife which was used in the process.


Instructions


To make homemade hand sanitizer, simply mix rubbing alcohol with aloe vera at the recommended concentrations in the chart below. Bottled aloe vera gel and rubbing alcohol may be combined by vigorously whisking them together in a bowl. However, if you’re using fresh aloe vera you will definitely want to use a blender to thoroughly mix the hand sanitizer. If you choose to use essential oils, add just a few drops.  



How to Make 60% Alcohol Hand Sanitizer 

Using 91% to 99% rubbing alcoholUsing 70% rubbing alcohol
Use 2 parts alcohol to 1 part aloe vera gelDilute the alcohol by no more than 10% 
Example: 1 cup alcohol & ½ cup aloe vera, or 2 cups alcohol & 1 cup aloe vera.Example: 3 cups alcohol & ⅓ cup aloe vera, or 5 cups alcohol & ½ cup aloe vera. 


Be careful to not over-dilute the alcohol (use too much aloe) by any more than listed on the chart! The given concentrations will create a hand sanitizer that is just over 60% alcohol – the minimum needed to kill coronavirus.

Once the aloe vera and alcohol are thoroughly combined or blended, transfer your homemade hand sanitizer to a spray or squeeze bottle of choice. We reused a few travel-size spray bottles that we had around the house, and stored the extra in a glass mason jar for later refills. If you use 91 to 99% strength alcohol, your finished hand sanitizer will be slightly thicker and may work in a squeeze bottle. Otherwise, plan to use a spray bottle for easy application of more liquid-like sanitizer. 


A bowl of homemade hand sanitizer that will be used in a hand pump or squeeze bottle. The sanitizer is lightish green and is fairly transparent.


How to Properly Use Hand Sanitizer


When soap and water are not readily available, use your hand sanitizer instead! First, shake before use in case the aloe separately slight. Then spray or squeeze a generous amount of hand sanitizer into the palm of your hand. Next, rub it around until all surfaces of both hands are thoroughly wetted. I like to use a lot.

Pay special attention to finger tips, fingernails, between fingers, and even the backs of your hands. Continue rubbing your hands together (like you’re washing your hands) until they feel dry. Yet don’t wave your hands about to make it “dry faster”. A long wet contact time is good! Because alcohol can dry your skin out, you may want to follow up with hand lotion after sanitizing. 

The CDC says that effectiveness of hand sanitizer decreases when hands are heavily soiled with dirt or grease. Thus, they recommend washing your hands with soap and water in those circumstances instead. 


A hand is holding a travel sized spray bottle with the words "hand sanitizer" written on the side of the bottle. In the background there are sprigs of lavender, rosemary, and aloe vera leaves.


So simple, right?


In closing, I hope this quick tutorial on homemade hand sanitizer will help many of you and your families stay healthy! Please let me know if you have any questions. Also feel free to share this article with your friends and family. Stay safe out there.



DeannaCat signature, keep on growing

16 Comments

  • Bethany! McMorris

    I used your recipe, with fresh aloe and I’m happy with the results. I was also reading other recipes and one said the self-life was one week for the same recipe; for real??? How long do you suggest?

  • Danielle Randall

    Hi there! Thank you for all your wonderful info and resources! Since fresh aloe gel is used, does it need to be refrigerated and does it expire relatively quickly?

    • DeannaCat

      Hi! The alcohol is a strong preservative so it can be out at room temp. We do have to shake ours before use since it tends to separate just a tad. I’m not sure how “nutritious” the aloe stays in alcohol, but for this use, the aloe is mostly here to help increase the contact time the alcohol is on your hands (important) and provide a little extra moisture. I hope that helps!

  • Brandon Snuggs

    This recipe will work, but I would suggest adding a huge disclaimer for somebody using 91% isopropyl alcohol. When using that 2:1 ratio with %91 alcohol, it leaves the effective strength of the mixture at 60.67%. That leaves very little margin for error if somebody adds a little too much aloe.

    After doing the math, if you add so much as half an ounce more of aloe (exactly .57 oz) to that recipe with 91% isopropyl, the mixture will no longer be effective. I added the spreadsheet I used to do the math on this, so anyone can correct my math if it’s wrong.

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Xd66QyNNeTwR7uQY422N21omAC2uz-jvcOBrv1vmOzo/edit?usp=sharing

    Be safe out there everyone.

    • DeannaCat

      Great question! As long as you pay attention the actual alcohol content percentage (not going off of “proof” ratings on alcohol, which are different) then yes you can use drinking alcohol for this recipe!

  • Kim S

    Hi Deanna! Hope you and the boys are well! I was just wondering if aloe juice would also work! I am all out of gel but remembered I have an unopened bottle of the aloe juice from Whole Foods in the back of my pantry (not the sugary drink one, the cylindrical glass bottle one of just plain juice they sell in the supplement area.)

    • DeannaCat

      I think so! I think that is supposed to be refrigerated once opened, but the alcohol would help preserve it! Better than nothing right now. Stay safe!

      • Samantha

        Hi, I was just wondering if I was to use fresh Aloe Vera, how long will the sanitizer stay good for? Does the Rubbing Alcohol preserve it?

        Thanks

        • DeannaCat

          Hi Samantha – Yes the alcohol preserves the aloe, and should be fine for as long as you need to use it! Ours started to separate a little bit after a few days but it blends back together when shaking.

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